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Where's the value in working for FREE?

Is working for FREE bad for business?

I do not know the answer to this question so I value your comments. But I have been thinking a lot about it.

Two things happened to me earlier this week which made me question whether giving my best advice, sharing my expertise and working for free, was good for my business:

  1. I was asked to present a webinar on how to shoot videos with your smartphone
  2. I offered my support to a videographer who was new to the business and wanted to know how to edit a promo

The webinar is going to be part of a series about digital marketing and sales funnels. My role is to present a cost effective way to create video content using your smartphone or tablet, which if you know me you'll know is a core part of my business.

The chat with the videographer started off as a possible sales call and ended up being a pretty one sided conversation lasting well over an hour. In the call I talked the videographer through editing a promo video.

That's several hours work with no fee

Part of me is more than happy to share my expertise, after all, many people have helped me get to where I am today by sharing their expertise with me. I also believe everything is about energy... the more energy you put out there the more you get back.

But then I'm not sure...

If it fits into my marketing then that's good to do, after all the webinar is going to give me great exposure and people who've never heard of me before are going to be introduced to me and what I do.

But then, I have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed and keep clothed (and they grow so fast), and free don't pay the bills.

I was told there are only two reasons for working for free

  1. Because you've just started in business and need to get some testimonials and recommendations
  2. Because you're so minted you can afford to do pro bono work

For a few years I stuck to this argument, but now I'm neither a new business, or rolling in money, so neither option applies.

So I share my expertise for free because it just feels right to do sometimes.

But is that a good argument?

Two years ago I made 5 videos for FREE

The videos were for a charity called Demand, who make bespoke equipment for people with disabilities. The five videos were shown at a Gala event at Watford Football club and helped to raise £24,000.

And do you know what, when I was originally asked if I would be willing to make one of the five videos I said, without hesitation "No, I'm not going to make one video for you, I'll make all five".

Here's one of the videos shown at the Gala

Five videos like this would usually cost around £5,000 to produce, but I was happy working for free as it was a real pleasure to know my skills were being used to help a very valuable cause.

The thing is, it's a real pleasure to know my skills are being used to help someone's business grow, or help someone learn AND get paid for it!

I would really value your opinion here

Is offering your services for free good or bad for business practice?

Are there times when you should or should not work for free?

Please leave a comment below.


Neil Ben

Neil Ben is a Director, Coach and Trainer who works with Entrepreneurs, Sole Traders and SMEs, to help them use video to stand out from their competitors. He started his television career as an assistant producer in the BBC in the late 80s and has won many awards for both his broadcast and video productions including a BAFTA nomination and an FSB Award for Business Innovation.

Working with Neil

For support in the production of videos check out Business Video Services.
If you want to learn how to make your own videos using your smartphones or tablet check out the Easy-Pro Video Online courses
You can also attend one of Neil’s video workshops
Or Neil can support you in making Engaging and Inspiring training videos


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Chandlers Cross, 
07956 376239

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